MarcSerna

Wiki Contributions

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What the future will look like

I really liked the story. Think of doing more!

What high-level change would you make to EA strategy?

Yes that is the idea!

Great post idea, maybe you can refloat it every year.

What high-level change would you make to EA strategy?
  1. Collectivize operations of EA organizations eg. do all hiring or Compliance by an operations team that helps many orgs.

  2. found two replicas of Open Philantropy Foundation with teams with slightly different opinions on key issues

  3. an EA humanitarian agency applying reason to respond to the world's worst humanitarian crises. We could call it Emergency Aid.

On the assessment of volcanic eruptions as global catastrophic or existential risks

Thank you! Are there any public educative materials you recommend as a base?

On the assessment of volcanic eruptions as global catastrophic or existential risks

Great post and answers I really enjoyed it.

I am concerned about the volcanos that are not being monitored in developing countries. I actually live in a vulcano that is very likely to not be properly monitored (Mt. Cameroun) and that has had activity in recent decades.

Is there anything that small NGOs, local Universities, local governments, and civil society can do to help monitor vulcano activity? what risk mitigation measures can be realistically planned and promoted in low income countries?

Sorry if I am out of topic. I thought of writing privately but someone else might find the answer useful.

Some quick notes on "effective altruism"

Great post.

Has this debate evolved? Did someone try to give the 10 names?

I like efficient altruism, it drops the smugness a bit.

Neoutilitariansm could also make sense. But maybe someone who understands EA better than me points out the differences between what EA has been and utilitarianism.

Change now after 10 years can be really really difficult. But the best time is as soon as possible. Also it is difficult because EA is not a single organization or exact philosophy with one person behind it.

I usually say "I admire/follow the Effective Altruism community" rather than saying I am an Effective Altruist.

Plan Your Career on Paper

This is an interesting post and I have been seeing similar critiques in the past year. I wrote something similar but much less articulate once. I think the community is ready for practical advice, career options, and solutions for the not extremely outstanding masses.

Like advice for EAs with low GPAs and weak CVs, or advice on how to compare any two very specific options.

Your post is a very good starting point.

Fighting corruption in aid - embezzling

Thank you so much for your comment.

 

I also had browsed the same result before writing the post, and although I agree on it not being near 70%, I think the study quoted is not representative and deep enough, that is why I went for my 10-50% estimate (which, with a 40% gap, is not really an estimate ;D).

My observation is that small organisations and smaller donors with less strict financial reporting mechanisms apply systematic cuts from any budget line (creating “blind” budgets, or in Spanish we would say “Budget B”), anything can be gotten cheaper. It would probably be more like 10%-50%, with most cuts going from 20 to 35%. Funnily enough, they then solve many problems out of the project budget with those resources, problems that efficient budget management techniques and transparency can address. But with a starting point that accepts proper compensation of workers. I think (and this is somehow a different idea) that advocating for as much as 25% overhead or more, and then extremely strict financial management standards for the remaining 75%, looking for the maximum efficiency and cheapest prices, while controlling for quality, would be a huge improvement. Maybe donors could offer something like “if you save X from spending in the grant, and you get the same results, we give you half, or one quarter of X as unrestricted funding by the end of the grant”. In this spin-off of idea what I am proposing is advocating to donors a change in their approach to grantmaking, one that can help good but corrupt NGOs into good and well structured NGOs that can account for funds and have better future perspectives because of that. 

As organisations get bigger, and more professional, it gets more dangerous. Then they would look only at some budget lines (generally, procurement and salaries), and the bite will be smaller. The World Bank is a great organisation and their partners would fall into the second category, so I think the data used in that article is not representative enough.

Second article

My problem with existing solutions is that they ask of the NGOs to behave better without really showing how and why. Small NGOs should have great audit departments but it is not very realistic:  My point is first they think they need to be corrupt to survive, and they can’t afford good audits on their projects because their donors don’t pay for it! Bigger NGOs should control their partners better, but every time there is such a scandal it is a huge embarrassment and somebody’s fault, and they know that everyone is doing it anyway so they are rather afraid of truly looking too closely, and even they don’t have the resources to audit everything properly. For example, UNICEF and most big donors would use a spot-check method to determine fraud (getting a selection of expenditures, not at random, but based on risk, and make findings from there). This is because it is costly to audit a full budget. What if this organisation I am pondering was to partner with them and offer third-party verification for all expenses of a project for free? 

It is a very ugly business, and most people shy away from it. Most of the article reads like a compliance issue, that everyone should try to follow. I think there should be a different approach, one that can get people excited about it, such as this idea that citizens in developing countries have the right to audit aid assistance just like they have the right to ask questions about government spending.

Weird Wealth Creation ideas - Mobile Money

These are my most important takes:

1) Informed, low cost advocacy to improve Mobile Money services for the poor and extreme poor might be impactful. This is something my organisation can explore in Cameroon. 

2)Most people who don't have an account, in environments where Mobile Money is available, don't need it or don´t feel they need it. Could it be because they are in fact too poor for it? If this is the case it could be a useful indicator for targeting in cash transfer and humanitarian programs. 

3) Lastly, supporting agents to become agents might be the most promising, I got the same feedback from a fellow development worker.

However, I was thinking of a traditional development project, we map out places, find poor people, help them set up Mobile Money booths and give them capital to start, while Brian's reply seems to be about a profit-making venture acting  as a sort of middle men facilitating the process. Which approach is more interesting?

Weird Wealth Creation ideas - Mobile Money

Thank you for this extremely informative response. This was way beyond my expectations!

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